Paper on Visual references in aviation

Paper on Visual references in aviation
When flying an aircraft a pilot may experience discrepancies in the information provided by a sensory interpretation. In this case visual perception plays the primary role in decision making, for humans are used to relying on vision in everyday life and use vestibular senses as supportive.

In aviation there are situations when no visual references are available, therefore a pilot is forced to interpret information provided by either false visual features or vestibular senses. This information is very often misleading. The visual references essential to full spatial orientation are the relation of the object sizes in different distances; forms and shapes of objects; relative positioning of objects; texture and contrast; illumination of the various objects; saturation of objects located at different distances.

Visual references are crucial when the pilot gets wrong vestibular interpretation during acceleration or deceleration. Anyway often the pilots do not experience overloads and all information they can rely on is bases on visual perception. The primary visual reference which the pilots use is the horizon line that helps to align and level the aircraft. It happens quite often that due to landscape peculiarities, deteriorating weather conditions or lack of natural illumination the horizon line is not visible. In this case pilots use a positioning of the objects on the ground or other cues in order to establish an understanding of their spatial location. Spatial disorientation is a very frequently encountered problem. It is deemed to cause up to 10% of all the aircraft accidents.

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